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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Christmas memories 12. So that was Christmas

By 27th December my Father was back at work.  He was a manager on our local steelworks and steelmaking can't have a temporary stop or the furnaces would be damaged.  Sometimes he even went in for a few hours on Christmas Day but his assistant manager was a bachelor and generously allowed Daddy to have the lion's share of time off during the two day break.  It wasn't until 1974 that New Year's Day became a holiday in England with the modern "tradition" of a break from around 23rd December until 2nd January.  Steelworks still don't stop but as many workers as possible get as many days off as possible.  

The Christmas tree also stayed up until 5th January and we didn't go back to school until the new year either so Christmas was still with us.  There was never the excessive waste of food which there is today and the post-Christmas leftovers were particularly delicious.  

Several people have mentioned how sociable Christmas was and they are right but Mother would never neglect an opportunity to teach us how to behave.  The dreaded task to be done before New Year was writing thank you letters and it was best to get them out of the way as quickly as possible if only to get Mummy off my back.  There were toys to be played with  but not while there were letters to be written.  Christmas was a time of learning how to behave, whether it was sitting quietly whilst elderly people were visited, giving a farewell kiss to all and sundry, or handing around nuts or fruit before being allowed to take anything.  

Compared to the excesses of today the fifties were austere but they were still magical.  Just a few years earlier Britain had been at war and life had been very hard and people had learnt to make the best of everything, a skill which mothers continued to use. I hope that in fifty or sixty years time today's children will also be able to put on their rose coloured spectacles and tell their stories.


  1. Thank you for sharing all your memories. While a different country and time, it shows the magic is within not on store shelves, and has been for children.

  2. My daughters' are creating new traditions with my grandchildren. Hopefully these ways of celebrating will be just as special and timeless immersed in love but your memories I can very much relate to as a 1950s born child. Best wishes